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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Average retirement age on the increase, says ONS

People are working longer than they used to, with the average retirement age increasing from 63.8 to 64.6 years for men and from 61.2 to 62.3 years for women between 2004 and 2010, according to statistics published today by the Office for National Statistics.


The latest updates to the ONS’s Pension Trends document also found that the peak ages for men to leave the labour market are 64 to 66 years for men and 59 to 62 years for women. This mean retirement peaks around the State Pension Age for both sexes.

In 2010, there were 3.2 people of working age supporting ever person of SPA and over in the UK. However, the ONS said that, without changes to the SPA, this ‘old age support ratio’ would drop to 2.0 by 2051.

SPA is due to rise to 68 for both sexes by 2046, which the ONS said would mean the old age support ratio falls by less – to 2.9 by 2051.

The rise in women’s SPA is expected to be accompanied by a decline in their life expectancy at state pension age this decade, the ONS said.

But, between 2021 and 2051, life expectancy at SPA is expected to rise ‘gradually’ for both sexes. This is because of a change in the assumptions for future life expectancy in ONS’s 2010-based population projections which means life expectancy at the relevant ages is now forecast to increase ‘slightly faster’ than the SPA increases contained in the Pensions Acts 2007 and 2011.

Elsewhere, the updates highlight inequalities in life expectancy between social classes, with the latest estimates for England and Wales showing a gap of over three years in the life expectancy for 65-year-olds between the highest and lowest social classes. Geographically, life expectancy at age 65 is highest in England and lowest in Scotland.

In terms of the healthy life expectancy people can expect, the most recent figures –for 2008 – show UK men at age 65 had 9.9 years of health life expectancy, compared with 17.6 years of life expectancy. For women of the same age, 11.5 years of healthy life expectancy is forecast, compared with 20.2 years of life expectancy.


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